HR & Management

Why you should stop caring about millennial employees

13 min read

29 January 2019

Features Editor, Real Business

Accommodating millennial preferences about work is overrated. Instead, employers must draw on what millennials want and use it to benefit the lives of all employees regardless of age. From increased job flexibility to holistic career development, the world of work is changing for good, as employees as an entire community are demanding more.

You know the joke about millennial employees, right? That they jump from job to job and “never settle down?”

Well, according to tech recruitment firm Tempo, this long-standing joke is rooted in fact. But this shouldn’t be seen as a negative thing for employers, we’ll explain why later…

According to their research, millennials are pretty flexible when it comes to accepting job offers – and leaving them. They’ve discovered that as many as three in ten millennial employees already have five or more jobs under their belt. Added to this, two-thirds of employees from this group are considering a change of career out of their immediate area.

Millennial views that appeal to all workers

What these facts show is that millennials are failing to find careers that they see as fulfilling. In short, the “job for life” is over for this generation because these jobs aren’t giving them what they want. But what do they want?

Here’s what Tempo has to say about what millennial workers look like and how they behave in the world of work.

Millennial workers: Fast facts

  • A millennial is anyone born between 1981 and 1996 (aged 23 to 38 in 2019)
  • The average millennial has already had 3.4 jobs
  • 52% say they plan to move jobs within two years
  • 34% say they want to move jobs within the next twelve months
  • 64% want to move sectors, compared to 39%  of those aged between 35-55

What do “they” want?

Millennials aren’t job hopping because they love this sort of lifestyle. Far from it. Millennials are moving around in the job market because they’re craving “multi-disciplined and diverse careers” according to Tempo’s research.

What’s refreshing about these findings is that millennial workers aren’t being defined as de-facto trouble-makers in the world of work. Instead, they are simply demanding more from employers in terms of job durability and fulfilment.

How should an employer respond?

At this juncture, it’s important to remember that whilst millennial workers will be the majority of the employment community by 2020, they can, (gasp) also be employers too!

If an employer offers an employee a career path that’s defined by role stratification and leads in only one direction, and to a limited stage of development, they’re bound to feel trapped and are going to jump ship at one point or another. This can happen whatever the age of the employee, millennial or not.

The answer for employers, millennial, Gen Z, or older, is offering candidates more incentives to stay by allowing for a job role that can evolve with the career interests and talents of the employee in question.

“There are multiple advantages to have a diverse job background. People who embrace variety are more adaptable, likely to have a range of soft skills, and a wider pool of professional contacts. Employers must realise the opportunity they present and do more to attract them. This means creating a recruitment system that supports a flexible employment structure and enables them to hire at speed.” – Ben Chatfield, CEO and Co-Founder, Tempo.

Once career progression begins to be defined by the general skills and experience acquired over time, employees will feel less pigeon-holed in their roles. This also means that they won’t worry as much about switching sectors so early on to get in their ‘preferred lane’.

Job motivations are changing

There does seem to be a generational divide between millennials and older candidates when it comes to the motivations behind choosing a certain role.

According to the research, 83% of over-55s questioned said salary is one of their top three motivations for choosing a new role. When it comes to millennials, on the other hand, this figure fell to 67%.

“Employers have found it notoriously difficult to understand millennials and their outlook on work. As a consequence, they have struggled to meet their needs. This generation has a different appetite for learning and self-improvement. They don’t see a portfolio career as ‘job hopping’ as older generations might.” – Ben Chatfield

Most preferred workplace benefits by age group

Rental management company, ‘Get Living‘, has released a piece of research to examine the challenges people face living and commuting in cities.

They’ve come out with a hotlist of what job perks employees prefer. What’s more, they’ve discovered what age groups prefer what! Here’s the list by age-group…

18-24

1. Unlimited holiday days
2. Flexible working hours
3. Dental care
4. Free breakfast supplies
5. One free holiday a year
6. Access to mental health care
7. Private health care
8. Retailer and restaurant discounts
9. Free coffee and tea
10. Help with housing
11. Additional holiday days for long service
12. Enhanced pension contribution
13. Free fruit
14. Free eye tests
15. Free taxis if you need to stay in the office late
16. Clothing allowance
17. Phone allowance/work phone
18. Free/on-site gym and classes
19. First class travel on work trips
20. Summer hours between May and August
21. Subsidised gym/fitness classes
22. Assistance with childcare costs
23. Free showers
24. Taking paid work days to volunteer at a charity
25. Access to an emergency nanny

25-34

1. Flexible working hours
2. Enhanced pension contribution
3. Unlimited holiday days
4. Free coffee and tea
5. One free holiday a year
6. Additional holiday days for long service
7. Private health care
8. Dental care
9. Free eye tests
10. Free breakfast supplies
11. Assistance with childcare costs
12. Summer hours between May and August
13. Free fruit
14. Retailer and restaurant discounts
15. Access to mental health care
16. Free/on-site gym and classes
17. Clothing allowance
18. Subsidised gym/fitness classes
19. Help with housing
20. Free taxis if you need to stay in the office late
21. Taking paid work days to volunteer at a charity
22. First class travel on work trips
23. Free alcoholic drinks on a Friday
24. Pets in the office
25. Unpaid sabbatical

35-44

1. Flexible working hours
2. Enhanced pension contribution
3. Additional holiday days for long service
4. Private health care
5. Unlimited holiday days
6. Free coffee and tea
7. Dental care
8. One free holiday a year
9. Free eye tests
10. Access to mental health care
11. Free fruit
12. Summer hours between May and August
13. Retailer and restaurant discounts
14. Assistance with childcare costs
15. Clothing allowance
16. Free breakfast supplies
17. Free/on-site gym and classes
18. Subsidised gym/fitness classes
19. Help with housing
20. Phone allowance/work phone
21. Taking paid work days to volunteer at a charity
22. Unpaid sabbatical
23. First class travel on work trips
24. Free showers
25. Free taxis if you need to stay in the office late

45-54

1. Flexible working hours
2. Additional holiday days for long service
3. Private health care
4. Enhanced pension contribution
5. Free coffee and tea
6. Free eye tests
7. Dental care
8. One free holiday a year
9. Unlimited holiday days
10. Clothing allowance
11. Free fruit
12. Retailer and restaurant discounts
13. Summer hours between May and August
14. Access to mental health care
15. Free breakfast supplies
16. Free/on-site gym and classes
17. Unpaid sabbatical
18. Subsidised gym/fitness classes
19. Help with housing
20. First class travel on work trips
21. Free taxis if you need to stay in the office late
22. Phone allowance/work phone
23. Taking paid work days to volunteer at a charity
24. Assistance with childcare costs
25. Pets in the office

55+

1. Flexible working hours
2. Enhanced pension contribution
3. Private health care
4. Additional holiday days for long service
5. Free coffee and tea
6. Dental care
7. Free eye tests
8. Unlimited holiday days
9. One free holiday a year
10. Retailer and restaurant discounts
11. Clothing allowance
12. Access to mental health care
13. Free fruit
14. Free taxis if you need to stay in the office late
15. Summer hours between May and August
16. Phone allowance/work phone
17. Subsidised gym/fitness classes
18. Free/on-site gym and classes
19. Help with housing
20. Unpaid sabbatical
21. Taking paid work days to volunteer at a charity
22. First class travel on work trips
23. Free breakfast supplies
24. Free showers
25. Pets in the office

Motivations for roles differ between the genders

Women are more likely to seek flexible working options (as much as 46% of women) than men.

This is probably down to the fact that women are more likely to have caregiving responsibilities, whether that’s a child or an elderly relative. However, only 29% of men said this was a priority when looking for a new job.

– Career progression, on the other hand, is almost twice as important to men (23% versus 15% of women).

Millennial women don’t have to choose between a family or a career thanks to flexible working

Whilst women as ‘wives and mothers’ are the ones traditionally expected to care for home and hearth, they look for job flexibility to be able to do both. This concept does represent some progress where millennial women, unlike their forebears, don’t have to choose between a ‘baby’ or a career anymore.

– Now, this is something that all female employees can agree is a good thing, whether they already have caring responsibilities, or whether they just want assurance that they’ll have this support from employers should they need it in the future.

Millennial values appeal to workers and employers of all ages, here’s why

As they’re set to be the majority of the workforce in only two years, employers don’t really have much of a choice but to start listening to millennials, and in turn, open their minds about what ‘the world of work’ looks like.

Because they’ll be the majority, they’ll also be the majority influencers when it comes to disseminating these views about work around the employment economy.

Whether you’re a millennial employer dealing with older generation employees, or vice versa, encouraging measures that incentivise employees to remain at your company, (including more fluid job roles and further opportunities for development in their areas of interest), is only a good thing for both parties.

Whilst these cultural changes most appeal to the millennial palette, they benefit all and should be implemented as part of an employment evolution.